4. Lower risk of injury. Sleeping enough might actually keep you safer. Sleep deprivation has been linked with many notorious disasters, like the destruction of the space shuttle Challenger and the grounding of the Exxon Valdez. The Institute of Medicine estimates that one out of five auto accidents in the U.S. results from drowsy driving -- that's about 1 million crashes a year.
Of course, any kind of accident is more likely when you're exhausted, says Jodi A. Mindell, PhD, a professor of psychology at St. Joseph's University in Philadelphia and author of Sleep Deprived No More. "When you're overtired, you're more likely to trip, or fall off a ladder, or cut yourself while chopping vegetables," she says. "Household accidents like that can have serious consequences."
5. Better mood. Getting enough sleep won't guarantee a sunny disposition. But you have probably noticed that when you're exhausted, you're more likely to be cranky. That's not all. "Not getting enough sleep affects your emotional regulation," says Mindell. "When you're overtired, you're more likely to snap at your boss, or burst into tears, or start laughing uncontrollably."
6. Better weight control. Getting enough sleep could help you maintain your weight -- and conversely, sleep loss goes along with an increased risk of weight gain. Why? Part of the problem is behavioral. If you're overtired, you might be less likely to have the energy to go for that jog or cook a healthy dinner after work.
The other part is physiological. The hormone leptin plays a key role in making you feel full. When you don't get enough sleep, leptin levels drop. Result: people who are tired are just plain hungrier -- and they seem to crave high-fat and high-calorie foods specifically.
7. Clearer thinking. Have you ever woken up after a bad night's sleep, feeling fuzzy and easily confused, like your brain can't get out of first gear?
"Sleep loss affects how you think," Mindell tells WebMD. "It impairs your cognition, your attention, and your decision-making." Studies have found that people who are sleep-deprived are substantially worse at solving logic or math problems than when they're well-rested. "They're also more likely to make odd mistakes, like leaving their keys in the fridge by accident," she tells WebMD.